SPOKANE, Wash. -- This time Cal made its free throws, and the Golden Bears are headed into uncharted territory.

Second-seeded Cal broke open a close game in the final six minutes Saturday night in a 73-63 victory over Louisiana State to reach its first Elite Eight in school history in front of a crowd of 6,146 at Spokane Arena.

That Bay Area showdown local women's basketball fans wanted? Not happening.

The Bears (31-3) will face Georgia on Monday after the Lady Bulldogs upset top-seeded Stanford in the other regional semifinal.

"We're kind of in awe of this whole thing," coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "We were us in the second half. I'm excited more people are seeing what I already know."

In the process, the axis of West Coast basketball power transferred to the East Bay -- at least for this season.

"This for us is about who we want to be," Gottlieb said. "We're not trying to out-Stanford Stanford."

Gottlieb said she got a congratulatory text from Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer immediately after the victory.

Cal might have enjoyed a showdown with its cross-bay rival, but at this point all that matters is the journey. After almost blowing its second-round game against South Florida because of poor free-throwing shooting, the Bears found their composure in the Sweet 16.

Cal made 21 of 32 from the line in the second half to pull away from the Lady Tigers (22-12), the sixth-seeded team representing the Southeastern Conference.

"We just needed to step up and hit our free throws," Cal guard Layshia Clarendon said. "We know that was kind of our reputation."

LSU had no answer for a blaze of gold jerseys swarming the lanes in a tenacious defensive effort spearheaded by Clarendon and Brittany Boyd. The Bears built a lead as big as 17 points and then made enough free throws to clinch it.

"We were going to put them on the line to see if we could get a missed shot opportunity," LSU star Theresa Plaisance said. "They did a great job of making free throws at clutch times. That really killed us."

The Mohawk-wearing Clarendon had 19 points, including 9 of 12 from the line, while redshirt junior Gennifer Brandon added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Boyd had 14 points and seven assists.

"Gen was on another planet in the second half," Gottlieb said.

After blowing a 10-point lead in the final minute of regulation Monday, the Bears guarded against another collapse by making their free throws when the game still was in reach.

But when Adrienne Webb made a 3-pointer to make it 71-61 with 51 seconds left, Cal fans couldn't help but think about the South Florida game the Bears won in overtime. Cal had missed 8 of 11 free throws in the final 1:28 to let its opponent tie the score at the end of regulation.

The turning point Saturday came when Boyd made a 3-pointer with 5:29 left to give the Bears a 12-point lead. While on the floor, Clarendon tipped the ball to Boyd, who fired just before the shot clock expired.

"Boyd took it upon herself to push the tempo," LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. "That gave them some easier looks."

Cal held a five-point lead in the first half but couldn't sustain it as the schools were tied nine times. They ended the half knotted at 26-26.

But Cal looked like a different team in the second, and that proved the difference. Now the Bears will play for a chance to play in the Final Four in New Orleans next weekend.

"We're kind of in awe of this whole thing," Gottlieb said.